5 days into kindergarten, my oldest daughter declared that she hated school. With all of the anger she could muster, which was remarkably quite a bit, she stomped her foot, scrunched up her face and told me that school was not for her after all because her teacher hated her and she was done. I chalked it up to her being tired. When on the 6th day, and the 7th, and the 8th, she told me that she still didn’t like school, and on the 9th she told me she had a stomach ache, I knew we had a problem.
It wasn’t that I thought that her school was bad. It was not that her teacher did hate her but in her mind, her reality, this was the truth she lived. And once that idea had set in, she was done. So 3 weeks into the school year of her very first year we open enrolled her in my district and Thea started kindergarten once again. I swear I have held my breath since then. Yesterday, she proudly showed me her kindergarten memory book and my breath caught for a moment when I saw what she had written. Under her most favorite thing she had written “Going to school.” And then I knew that I had to give thanks.
So to the teacher that loved my little girl so much that she cried on the night before the last day; thank you. I know how much you tried, I know much you cared. I know how many hours you worked, and how much time you spent thinking about all of those kids you taught. I know that there were days where I am sure you wanted to pull your hair out, we all have those days, but I also know that Thea told me that you were always happy. That no matter what you were happy to see her and she loved you for it.
You may not know, but that smile you put on your face, those little conversations that you had, the stories you told of your own adventures; those are what she told us about every single day. Those times you got silly, those times you held them to high expectations, she told us about that too. Every day a new story, every day a new memory. And so when she told me that she didn’t want any other teacher ever again, I knew that I would never have enough words to tell you how grateful we are. She hated school. You changed that. She faked stomach aches, threw fits, and cried those big fat tears, but you changed that. That is why great teachers matter. That is why people like you are so important for all of our kids.
So to all you teachers who cared this year. From this parent, who happens to be a fellow teacher, thank you. Thank you for putting in the time. Thank you for caring. Thank you for dedicating all of your emotional energy because you cared so very deeply for all of our kids. Thank you for inventing, for making, for creating. For giving students voices. For not giving up. For hugging. For listening and for seeing all of the kids for who they are. For giving hope, and for giving consequences. For making kids believe that they could achieve, even when the world was against them.
They say it takes a village to raise a kid, but honestly, sometimes it just takes one person. A person who sees your crazy amazing kid exactly for who they are and doesn’t think that something is wrong with them but instead tells them to be proud of who they are. So to Mrs. Huenink; the world needs more teachers like you so that more kids like mine can feel that they matter and that school is actually a place for them. Thank you.
I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA but originally from Denmark, who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade. Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. The second edition of my first book “Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students” // is available for pre-order now. Second book “Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press. Join our Passionate Learners community on Facebook and follow me on Twitter@PernilleRipp.